Wholeness, dignity and the ageing self: a conversation between philosophy and theology

Winifred Lamb, Heather Thomson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Winifred Wing Han Lamb: My philosophical interest straddles the areas of education, religion and theology. As a teacher involved in school philosophy programs, I have also been interested in the philosophy of childhood and particularly in the recurring notion of the 'whole child' in education. In considering what 'wholeness' could mean for children's education, I have also been led to consider what meaning it holds for the self through the 'changing scenes' of life, especially in the face of the challenges of ageing. The notion of 'wholeness' holds an intuitive appeal and invites articulation of the deep truths of our faith with respect to persons in all 'sorts and conditions.' In section one of this chapter, I attempt that articulation. But this conversation needs to be complementary. Our chapter is the beginning of a dialogue between philosophy and theology in which both affirm the ageing self in the light of the human search for wholeness and dignity. Heather Thomson: My theological research into humanity as an image of God led me to inquire about the way in which we could speak meaningfully of ageing and dying in terms of imaging God. This challenged how God-likeness was to be understood in relation to glory, honour and power, terms associated with imaging God and exerting dominion. In searching for a theological view of the self that would confer dignity on the ageing, I was led into conversation with various philosophies of the self, some very helpful for my task. It seems to me that, if ageing people are to be counted as having dignity and worth, and not discounted, then one's theory of the human person was significant. In pondering the issue, it appeared that a conversation between philosophy and theology would be fruitful. Hence, this joint paper. We each speak from our own discipline but find resonance with each other's work. We see this as a first step in a constructive conversation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-76
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Religion, Spirituality and Aging
Issue number3/4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2001


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